One thing can be said about British weather for the last six years. It’s been extreme, unpredictable, and inconsistent. The winter we’re leaving included numerous storms and record level floods, across Cumbria in particular. The winter before was blighted with record levels of wind. This winter has been very mild in temperature: another record for the Xmas holidays. In 2010 it was extremely cold with a huge fall of snow covering the country. I walked onto Derwentwater in the Lake District, iced over, for a photograph. There was a satellite image of Britain which was entirely white.

Winter’s been the problem. The rest of the years were predictably mild with grey skies, not much sunshine, barely a summer. We did have one good summer, last year or the year before, I forget, which feels to me how it should be. Not abnormal but normal. Sunshine and warmth. People say “turned out nice again” when that means grey skies but no rain.

It feels like a fight. Winter wants its way and has temporary advantage. Britain fights back. Winter wins for one day, this one, supposed to be spring. High pressure gives me the same idea. The meteorology suggests pushing away gloom and dreich which would otherwise prevail. Why can’t we have normal pressure and fine conditions? I don’t know why it’s called high, not normal, and if the description is arbitrary and relative like saying it’s cold. Cold for one person is comfortable for another.

Snow doesn’t excite me. It used to, and one year I reflected on its significance. It was when I visited the Lake District all the time, never Wales, and if I saw the suggestion of sun, snow, and I had the time for it, I’d phone around my list of guest houses and go. Sometimes booking a bed in the morning, then leaving immediately. I decided the snow possibility made winter a good time. Generally, winter is when I do very little except for day walks. I love the sun. I don’t like dark at four in a tent, or gloom in the hills.

For this project however, I needed snow. A final winter attack, snow and cold for the day, and I was glad of it. The skies were leaden grey so there was no dazzling white against blue, like a Greek village. I worked instead with a sombre palette and rather liked it.


Mersey Valley Snow

Sunday March 6, 2016